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Marines' reactions, Navy doctors' touch heals Iraqi boy

18 Jul 2004 | Sgt. Jose L. Garcia

Quick reactions from Iraqi Border Police and 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion helped a local teenager receive medical treatment for serious burns recently.

Sixteen-year-old Asaad Ibrahim burned himself with hot water, inflicting second-degree burns to more than 10 percent of his body.  He was rushed for treatment at 1st Force Service Support Group's Alpha Surgical Company.

Ibrahim, a cook for the IBP, accidentally spilled hot water on his legs while making tea for the IBP officers.  Immediately after the incident, the Iraqi officers contacted Marines from Weapons Company, 1st LAR, who were patrolling nearby.

At the officers' request, Weapons Company drove Ibrahim to Camp Al Qaim.  Once there, doctors stabilized and treated his burns. 

He was flown to Camp Al Asad for further treatment.

"We immediately gave him pain medication and changed the dressing," said Navy Ensign Karen M. Lovecchio, a 25-year-old nurse, from Vineland, N.J.  "We washed and cleaned it with cleaning solution."

"He has partial thickness burns ... of both legs," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Cristal D. Leslie, a 27-year-old hospital corpsman from Garden Grove, Calif.

According to Leslie, Ibrahim was traumatized and afraid he would never see his family after leaving Camp Al Qaim.

"He kept crying and wanted to go home so we had the interpreter come in and try to calm him down," Leslie explained.  "We told him we would send him home after we treated his wounds."

"We gave him medication to take home and explained to him how to use it so he can take care of it on his own," Lovecchio said.  "We want him capable of taking care of the burn himself before releasing him." 

The doctors and staff didn't let him go home empty-handed.  Corpsman calmed the frightened teenager with gifts such as tennis shoes, a soccer ball and clothes.

"We did special things for him in an attempt to make him feel better," Leslie said.  "He was afraid of losing contact with his father and not seeing him again."

According to Ibrahim, he and his father have never been apart from each other and both are employed with IBP, where his father is an officer.

"When I first came here, I was afraid.  I wanted my father here with me," Ibrahim said.  "But now I feel better."

"It's good to help the Iraqi people when we can," said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Chad J. Vigue, a 29-year-old hospital corpsman, from Woonsocket, R.I.  "It shows them our good side."

This is the third child Alpha Surgical Company has helped since being deployed here. 

"I think it's great we are able to help some of the local community people," said 1st Lt. Catalina E. Kesler, the 27-year-old company executive officer, from Calexico, Calif.  "Thank God we are not as busy with our own military.  We are grateful ... it reminds me why we are here." 

Ibrahim looks forward to playing soccer once his legs are better.  This is the second time he has spilled hot water on his legs.  The first time he burned his knees.  He said he's thinking about a new line of work.

"I will look for another job," Ibrahim added.